CHINA is very worried about a Beijing-bound plane carrying 239 people that went missing on Saturday morning, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.
"The news is very disturbing. We hope everyone on the plane is safe," said Mr Wang told a press conference on the sidelines of the annual meetings of China's parliament, the National People's Congress.
"As soon as we have any more information, we will give it to you immediately," he added, noting that China's Foreign Ministry and related government agencies have activated an emergency response mechanism.
The Malaysia Airlines passenger plane, which carried passengers of 14 nationalities including 152 Chinese nationals and one Chinese infant, reportedly lost contact with Subang Air Traffic Control at about 2.40am.
The Boeing 777-200 was believed to be in Vietnamese airspace when it disappeared, with 7.5 hours of fuel left. It had been expected to land in Beijing at 6.30am on Saturday.
The Beijing airport authority's spokesman Li Xiaomei told Xinhua news agency this morning that the situation was "under control" and it is in close contact with Malaysia Airlines.
It was unclear how many family members were waiting at the airport, she added.
At the Beijing International Airport Terminal 3, several people who are believed to be family members of the missing Chinese passengers were on a bus. One woman was crying as she spoke on the phone, while others were tight-lipped when approached by some of the 50-plus reporters staked out at the airport.
The bus was headed for the Lido Hotel roughly 20 minutes way from the airport, where the Chinese authorities is understood to be holding a press conference later on Saturday.
But apparently the bus had been stationary for some time, so one Chinese couple stormed off shouting "We've been waiting so long and still we haven't left the airport."
Chinese netizens flooded forums and official news websites with messages of concern, as well as rumours that the plane had landed in China. Malaysia Airlines told a news conference on Saturday that they had not received any confirmation that the plane had landed anywhere.